MUMBAI: At one point in time, the Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati shootouts and the alleged rape-cum-murder of Kausar Bi, the former’s wife, had shaken Gujarat’s political, bureaucratic and police establishments.
After 12 years, the curtains have finally downed on this politically-sensitive case that kept many bigwigs on tenterhooks for over a decade.
Here is a brief timeline of the major highlights during the period. (Wherever confirmed specific dates are not available only the month is mentioned):
Nov 22 – Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kausar Bi, travelling by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra, intercepted and detained by Gujarat ATS team; taken away in separate vehicles
Nov 25 – While Sohrabuddin and his wife were lodged in Disha Farmhouse on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, their associate Tulsiram Prajapati arrested from Ahmedabad and packed off to Udaipur, to face trial in a case pending against him
Nov 26 – Sohrabuddin later taken to an isolated spot and gunned down in an allegedly ‘staged encounter’ by police personnel of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The police later claimed that Sohrabuddin was linked with terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and was planning to gun down an important political functionary, presumably then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister
Nov 29 – Kausar Bi, who was a witness to her husband’s killing, was allegedly raped and burnt and her body disposed off in Gujarat’s Illol village
December – Shrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin writes to the Chief Justice of India alleging fake encounter in the killing of his brother and Kauser Bi. The Supreme Court asks the Gujarat Police to probe
Dec 27 – Prajapati was being brought from Udaipur Central Jail by a police team from the two states on a transit remand, but he reportedly tried to flee and was gunned down in an alleged ‘staged encounter’ near Sarhad Chhapri on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border.
Early in 2007, Tulsiram Prajapati’s mother, Narmadabai Prajapati, writes to the Supreme Court on her son’s death in an encounter and demands a CBI probe
April 30 – Gujarat police submitted a report to the Supreme Court saying Kausar Bi is dead, her body burnt and disposed off. The submission came in a plea filed a year before by Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin, and other family members seeking investigations into the encounter case of his brother and the disappearance of Kausar Bi. The apex court orders a probe by the Gujarat CID
Jan – Expressing displeasure over the shoddy probe by Gujarat CID, the SC hands over the Sohrabuddin-Prajapati encounter case and the Kausar Bi death probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
July 23 – After its detailed investigations, the CBI files charge-sheets against 37 accused including the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, then Rajasthan Home Minister G.C. Kataria and several IPS officers.
July 25 – Causing a major sensation, CBI arrests Amit Shah in the case, claiming he was the kingpin, and charges him with various offences.
Oct 8 – A Special CBI Court in Gujarat rejects Shah’s bail plea.
Oct. 29 – After spending over three months in jail Gujarat High Court grants bail to Shah on a Rs 100,000 bond
April 8 – SC clubs the trial in the killing of Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bi and Prajapati in veiw of a common thread binding the three cases
Sept 27 – Following doubts raised in various quarters, including Sohrabuddin’s family, the SC transfers the sensitive case from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, as sought by the CBI, to ensure a free and fair trial
July 9 – Barely three months after the NDA assumed power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Amit Shah elected BJP President
Dec 1 – Special CBI Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the case, dies of a heart attack in Nagpur
Dec 30 – The Special CBI Court in Mumbai discharges Shah from the Sohrabuddin encounter case, along with 15 others, including senior IPS officers
Nov – Rubabuddin moved the Bombay High Court challenging Amit Shah’s discharge; later withdraws the petition
Dec – Social crusader Harsh Mander also moved the Bombay HC against Shah’s discharge
Jan 24 – As the case progresses in the courts, Amit Shah re-elected BJP President for a second term
April – Bombay HC dismisses Mander’s plea, observing he has no locus standi in the matter, following which he moves the SC
Aug – SC also rejects Mander’s appeal challenging the Bombay HC verdict
Oct. – Special CBI Court in Mumbai frames charges against the remaining 22 accused in the case
Nov – Special CBI Judge S. J. Sharma commences the trial. The prosecution examines 210 witnesses over the next one year, of which 92 turned hostile
Jan 14 – Judge Loya’s son, Anuj B. Loya, holds a media briefing in Mumbai and states the family no longer had any ‘suspicions of a conspiracy’ in the death
April 19 – Dismissing a writ petition, Supreme Court rules that Judge Loya’s death was natural
Sep – Bombay HC upholds the Special CBI Court discharge granted to senior IPS officers in the case
Nov 23 – Special CBI Court completes the examination of witnesses and recording of statements of all the accused under Section 313 of the Cr.PC.
Dec 5 – The Special Court completes hearing the final arguments between the defence and prosecution and announces December 21 as the date of verdict
Dec 21, 2018 – Mumbai Special CBI Court Judge S. J. Sharma acquits all 22 accused in the case, mostly lower-level police officers, observing that the CBI failed to establish the charges against them.